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Fans are ecstatic for U.S. alpine ski racing

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
BOP DH Fans JM 12-2-11
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BEAVER CREEK – American fans might lack the level of devotion to the sport of ski racing that Europeans are practically born with, but there’s still an energy in Beaver Creek during the Birds of Prey race week that makes it feel like ski racing is the only sport in the world that matters.

The energy level was high Friday morning as fans loaded into shuttle buses and headed up to the race course. One man was dressed in a bear suit, other fans carried signs and some even painted their chests to support their favorite racers.

It’s an exciting time for people like Fred Rumford, a Wildridge resident who has been coming to Birds of Prey just about every year since the event started. He grew up ski racing, and to be able to watch it live in Beaver Creek is a special experience, he said.



“This is one of the best venues in the world,” Rumford said. “What’s great about this (venue) is they can hold multiple events on one hill, so we can see a lot of great events.”

Rumford was with friend Stephan Frischholz, who is from Europe, at Friday’s downhill race. Frischholz said the race was being broadcast live everywhere in Europe, on “regular TV, not some special channel you have to order.”

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It’s like Monday Night Football in America, perhaps. It’s tradition – it’s a big deal. But here, the importance of the event seems to be elevated when an American wins, and Bode Miller was able to provide that experience for the fans Friday with his first Birds of Prey downhill win in five years.

When Miller crossed the finish line, everybody knew he had just crushed his run. He knew it, too – you could see it in his face that he thought the run was enough to win, and it was.

The fans started chanting, “USA! USA! USA!.” They were almost as excited as Miller.



And even though the rest of the American racers in Friday’s downhill didn’t produce some of the fastest times, the support for them was huge.

Family members and friends were in the crowd, which is something rare for these American ski racers who spend the majority of their time traveling the World Cup circuit throughout Europe. To have them here just gives them the added motivation to charge it in the races.

American Marco Sullivan, who finished 28th in Friday’s downhill, had a cheering section of people wearing green “Marco” hats. His sister Chelsea Sullivan was one of many in the crowd.

Chelsea Sullivan said that while she and some family members are going to Europe this season to cheer Marco on, that’s a rare occurrence.

“So it’s great to be able to cheer him on and see him in the finish,” she said.

The group was excited that Miller won, too. While the fans were mainly Travis Ganong and Sullivan fans, they were U.S. Ski Team fans in general, too.

“We’re so excited (that Bode Miller won),” Chelsea Sullivan said. “We’re really good friends with (his) family, too. We cheer for all the U.S. guys. We’re fans of all of the U.S. guys, for sure.”

Megan Ganong, Travis Ganong’s big sister, said this weekend is her fourth time at “Beaver-fest.” She flew in from Squaw Valley, Calif., near Lake Tahoe, to watch her brother race.

The opportunity for these family members, as well as any ski racing fan in America, to watch a race in the United States is just too good to pass up, Megan Ganong said.

“It’s the only opportunity to watch our boys on home soil and we get a huge crew of people- new friends, old friends, people from ski racing past,” Megan Ganong said. “We’re all together, cheering everybody on.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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